Monday, September 12, 2011

Tune-up games show Gilas' readiness

source: Nelson Beltran | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - In a follow-up to its 69-52 drubbing of Qatar Wednesday, Smart Gilas Pilipinas trounced Jordan, 80-71, Saturday night in another tune-up victory that should help build the Nationals’ confidence and character for the 26th FIBA Asia Championship set Sept. 15-25 in Wuhan, China.

Another scheduled friendly versus Qatar last night at the Flying V-FilOil Arena was canceled to allow injured players to recuperate for the Wuhan meet.

"We showed character against Jordan. It's a very good game. We fared well against Asia's third-best team," said Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman.

Marcus Douthit came through with 17 points and nine rebounds, Marcio Lassiter added 16 points and Chris Tiu chipped in 10 points for the Nationals in beating practically the same Jordan squad that made the recent World Championship in Turkey.

Toroman, however, emphasized it was just a tune-up with both teams probably just sizing up one another.

"It's difficult to play Jordan. They confuse you with their defense like going 2-1-1 then, after one pass, switching to 1-2-2," Toroman noted.

The Serbian mentor, however, stressed their main concern is for his team to develop chemistry as quickly as possible.

"We're not yet fluid offensively. We have some misunderstandings," said Toroman.

"We need time and I hope we'll be ready by the second round (of the Fiba Asian elimination phase)," he added. "We may not be 100 percent in the first part of the tournament. In the second round, day-by-day, hopefully we get into shape and get better."

Kelly Williams, Ranidel de Ocampo and Jimmy Alapag have just joined the Nationals in training.

The tune-ups against Qatar and Jordan were the first matches De Ocampo and Alapag played with the Nationals.

Williams is more familiar with Smart Gilas since he suited up with the team in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games with Asi Taulava and Sol Mercado.

Realistically, Toroman said the Nationals shouldn’t be expected to play great in the initial stage of the tourney.

The Philippines plays China, Bahrain and UAE in the first round before clashing with the top three from among Indonesia, Japan, Jordan and Syria in the next stage.

Smart Gilas opens its campaign in the Asian Olympic qualifier against Bahrain on Thursday.